NOVEMBER 11, 1999 - GLOBAL ROLL CALL
By John McConnell
November 11, 1999 provides an astounding opportunity for our planet's leaders to speak out about the state of the world. November 11, 1918 ended hostilities in World War I and sparked the first global efforts to eliminate war on our planet.
There is global recognition of the need and possibility now to end the awful violent, destructive record of the previous millenniums with their wars, injustice, and failure to be responsible stewards of Earth's precious life. November 11 is an ideal date to ask world leaders to declare their common commitment to foster peace. It is just 50 days before January 1, 2000.
I am writing this on November 4th. Last night The American Experience TV featured the life of President Eisenhower. He was a great war hero, but felt civilization was at a crossroads where it would replace war with peace - or perish. I well remember my conversations with him in which he encouraged my efforts - and I treasure the photo I have of us together. He said the only solution was a moral equivalent of war: that if the money spent on armaments was spent on education, there would be no more wars.
As we approach a New Millennium, the information explosion with its confusion and contradictions let us use the key that will peacefully unlock the door to the future. The key is to combine faith and works in earth trustee vision and action. What is needed cannot be done in a day - or in a year. But a firm commitment can be made now with ever increasing faith and action in the coming days. Think about, pray about, talk about what you will do and you will make a difference.
This task is fraught with great difficulties. We are all products of our personal and cultural history. In fact, the words and images we use often mean different things to different people. A Christian may experience warm feelings about the Cross of Christ - while many (not all) Muslims are offended by attention given to it. They prefer the image of the Crescent - which calls attention to their different view of things. This is just one example of the different views of what is important.
I want to talk about the problem of our differences, but first let me mention that there are more and more people who now recognize the future depends on our coming together in the vital matters in which we agree. Successful efforts for conciliation and cooperation around the world have been based on this premise.
Also, I think most people will agree that our society is negatively affected by mass media. Our actions are largely a result of what we see and hear. Instead of headlining items that heal, build and unite, TV, radio, press and the web, feature items of hate, fear, greed and lust. Attitudes and actions, good or bad, begin in the mind. In today's world the altruism taught by leaders in religion and studies in ethics, is a minor factor in the minds of most people.
To avoid global disaster, we need to look in depth at what we can agree is the cause of civilization's failure. Throughout history, scholars, scientists, and religious leaders have disagreed about the fundamental question: What's life all about? - Why are we here? Where are we going? Is there life after death? Can we now obtain the measure of understanding and cooperation needed to avoid catastrophe and continue the human adventure?
In this critical moment of danger and opportunity, let's put aside our differences and warmly support what all can agree on. As we turn a global page and enter a new millennium, here is an idea that all can accept and act upon. We can then end history's long, sad, evil record and realize the age-long hope for the new day "where the lion will lie down with the lamb and the nations will learn war no more."
The following is a simple, practical, formula that will appeal to most people and do the most good for people and planet:
EARTH TRUSTEE FORMULA:
"Let all individuals and institutions now think and act as Trustees of Earth, seeking in ecology, economics and ethics to foster a sustainable future and eliminate poverty, pollution and violence."
Let every person who receives this message follow this with Earth Trustee commitment and action -- personally and in any group you belong to. Let's circle the world now with positive Earth Trustee visions that can save and rejuvenate our planet.
Forward this to people you believe could make a difference. Begin with a few friends. You who have access to leaders in government, finance, religion or mass media, email and phone them.
To succeed, spiritual help is needed. There is documented evidence that great changes for the better have resulted from spiritual awakenings when people prayed. Pray that New Year 2000 will see a global change of heart. In this critical moment of danger and opportunity, let's put aside our differences and warmly support what all can agree on. As we turn a global page and enter a new millennium, here is an idea that all can accept and act upon. We can then end history's long, sad, evil record and realize the age-long hope for the new day "where the lion will lie down with the lamb and the nations will learn war no more."
1. WHERE I'M COMING FROM
One of the people who influenced my thinking was Dr. Hayakawa, who wrote "Tyranny of Words." The theme of the United Nations is, "Peace through understanding." Every one of us come to this meeting with assumptions - many of them unexamined, that affect our understanding of what is said. For real communication we must constantly ask ourselves, "What does the speaker mean." Our experiences have led to word usage and meaning that often differs from that of other people - especially if they are of a different race, religion or culture.
In addition, modern life has caused short attention span and many listeners allow other things on their mind to distract them from what is said.
I would like to interject here, our character and attitudes are shaped by what we think. Actions good or bad begin in the mind. It is a good idea to occasionally stop and think of what is going on in your subconscious mind. There can be two or more tracts of thought going on at the same time. Young people especially, know how erotic and other unspoken thoughts - good or bad - influence our lives. "As a man thinks, so is he." Awareness and discipline in your unconscious mind is a key to character. Daily prayer or meditation and quiet times for reflection are food for the soul.
I was fortunate in the experiences of my early life. My father was an evangelist and I was the eldest of six children. A bible scripture that especially influenced me was "Seek first the kingdom of God." Since God is love, we should seek the rule of His love and wisdom on our planet. Beginning at age 6 or 7 I have learned more and more through the years about what this could mean.
My ever inquiring mind continued its search through the ups and downs of my life adventure. I made mistakes and committed sins - for which I had to ask God's forgiveness. But I kept coming back to my desire to understand and further a kingdom of love and peace on our planet.
My search led me to explore science, religion and philosophy. My father's ideas influenced me. At one point he wrote a tract, "What's Life All About? Why are we here? Where are we going? About that time (around 1939) I was a partner with Albert Nobell, a chemist, in The Nobell Research Laboratory in Los Angeles, California. While my formal education was limited (one year in High School and one semester at Pepperdine University) our work brought me in personal contact with leading scientists and their books.
I became interested in space exploration. Much later I was Co-publisher of The Toe Valley View in Bakersville, North Carolina. When the first Sputnik satellite was launched on October 4, 1957, I wrote an editorial, "Make Our Satellite a Star of Hope." It urged a bright, visible satellite be launched as a symbol of hope for humanity.
This editorial was picked up by the wire services and got front page attention around the world. I was on several TV network programs and received hundreds of letters of support. Among them were letters from Eleanor Roosevelt and a telegram of support from Billy Graham.
In 1963 I was Co-publisher of "The Mountain View." This was a weekly paper back in the San Francisco area where I grew up. When president Kennedy was assassinated I urged that on December 22 we end the period of mourning for the President with a global "Minute for Peace." This too brought world-wide attention.
Then the idea of a daily Minute for Peace on radio and TV was backed by the Mayor and City of San Francisco, who in 1965 sponsored my trip to New York where the New York World's Fair featured our Minute for Peace. Later, UN Secretary General U Thant issued a Minute for Peace message heard round the world.
Working with Minute for Peace at the United Nations led to my idea for a global day for planet Earth. This Earth Day would be celebrated each year on the March Equinox. From Earth Day came the Earth Trustee idea and agenda. There is much more about this on our web site.
2. TWO LEVELS OF REALITY
To obtain the measure of agreement and cooperation needed for the rejuvenation of our planet, we need to recognize two levels of reality - the physical and the metaphysical: the area of mental and religious phenomena.
Here we have questions pertaining to God and life after death. While these questions are important to most people, we do not have an accepted scientific basis for certifying they are true. I don't have a documentary video of what they are doing in heaven. However, faith in life after death has a powerful value. I once heard a group of prisoners in a jail all join when one of them started singing, "What are they doing in heaven today, where sin and sorrow are all done away." It brought me to tears. And of course no one can prove heaven doesn't exist.
Great benefits have come when religious belief resulted in greater compassion, humility and cooperation for common goals. On the other hand, religious bigotry and intolerance has been a major cause of violence and war. Now we are beginning to learn how to cooperate for common goals and mutual benefit - and at the same time leave room for differences about religious creeds.
There is no doubt in my mind that there is another dimension of reality. Experiences around the world with mystics and researchers provide evidence of phenomena - good and bad - that cannot be explained by science. The difficulty is that so many explanations contradict other accepted explanations. We are left with unproved hypotheses about their meaning.
3. WHAT WE HAVE IN COMMON AND WHERE WE AGREE
Fortunately, when it comes to the physical world, the here and now, we do have science on our side and a potential for honest agreement and action. Most people, including scientists, will agree that an Earth Trustee agenda can rejuvenate our planet and provide a peaceful, prosperous future here on Earth.
To achieve this requires that we determine what we have in common and look for every point where we can honestly agree. This policy will solve problems and provide new solutions.
4. SPACE AGE VISION. WHO OWNS PLANET EARTH? RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
"We set out to explore Space and discovered Earth." The view from Space set me on my Earth Day/Earth Trustee mission. Remarkable coincidences are part of the mystery of life. I have experienced many "coincidences" that some would consider a divine miracle. Whatever the explanation, I know that back in 1969 I prayed about an idea I had. I then felt led to pick up my father's bible, open it at random and put my finger on any part of the page. I don't make a practice of such things, but on this occasion the scripture I got was Psalms 115:16 ".The Earth hath he given to the children of men."
This was right after I had written a brief article, "Planetary Inheritance," contending that the natural earth was the property of the whole human family and everyone had equal claim to its natural bounty. The scripture I got in the Psalms was the one scripture in the Bible that best confirmed this. In the 1970 Earth Day we used buttons that showed the Earth as seen from Space and said, "Our Inheritance, Our Responsibility."
Since God is no respector of persons and provides equal justice, every individual on our planet has a claim to an equal benefit from his Earth-right inheritance. To provide this, governments should asses the value of all real estate - less improvements, plus the value of any oil, gold or other minerals produced each year. 2% of this sum should be distributed each year to every family on Earth. The money would come from a 2% tax paid by those who have title to these assets - which in a sense, belong to the whole human family. This would provide a fair, honest solution to the problem of poverty. People would still benefit most from their labor. But the child in a wealthy family would not be the only one to inherit unearned money. Everyone would have a minimum inheritance from our planet's natural bounty. This would be accompanied by voluntary efforts to be responsible Trustees of Earth and help protect and nurture Earth's amazing web of life.
5. THE ILLEGITIMATE POWER OF MONEY - And What To Do About It
In efforts for the rejuvenation of our planet we not only need to change our personal attitudes and conduct, we need to change the institutions that harm our lives. Chief among these are not only institutions and policies involved with global assets of Earth's raw materials - land, oil, gold, etc., but also the unfair banking system that rewards the powerful and punishes the poor. An honest medium of exchange is needed that would be available without interest where suitable assets are put up as security. There are solutions being demonstrated in different parts of the planet. In addition, the evils of income tax and unfair property taxes should be addressed. The Henry George Schools advocate honest, fair taxation and are proving its value in many communities where their land tax program has been adopted. Earth Trustee Message Boards on Internet should be provided that will tell of such efforts and report progress and success.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Can the New Millennium be a Green Millennium, a prosperous future where the Earth Trustee agenda will enable people to realize their human potentials? What you do will help decide. We're all in this together. Action now will halt history's long sad record and provide a continuation of the human adventure with more answers to our questions about the mystery of life. Do what you can with faith and vigor - and you will make a difference.